A patent is a right granted by the State (or other relevant authority) to an inventor so that he is the only one authorized to exploit and profit from his invention for a limited period of time.

A patent is an exclusive right granted to the creator or inventor of a certain product or service. This right allows you to manufacture and market your invention exclusively, being able to sue any other person or organization that tries to copy your invention.

The duration of the patent is limited and upon expiration the inventor must reveal the secrets of his invention (composition, structure, etc.) so that all interested persons can copy and commercialize it.

Characteristics of a patent

Patents have the following basic characteristics:

  • They are an exclusive right
  • They have a limited duration, their duration depends on the patented product or service. Usually they do not exceed 20 years.
  • They are granted by the State, generally through a public body specially dedicated to the registration of patents, trademarks and protection of intellectual and industrial property.
  • The patent creates a monopoly that favors the inventor or creator of the product or service.
  • The copying or exploitation of a product or service without having its patent is illegal and can give rise to sanctioning procedures (fines, jail, etc.)
  • Patents not only apply to complex products or processes but also to simple inventions or original ideas (for example a paper clip, filter, etc.)
  • It is valid in the territory in which the patent was granted.

Purpose of patents

The main objective of the patent is to incentivize creation and innovation by allowing the inventor, who has spent energy and resources creating something new, to obtain a reward.

When there are no patents, the incentives to invest in developing new products, services or technologies are reduced since others will immediately be able to copy them, appropriating a large part of the benefits. In other words, if the inventor cannot profit from his creations, it will not be profitable for him to invest in creating something new, which will end up harming society as a whole.

Although the patent generates a monopoly, this will be of limited duration since when the protection period ends, the inventor will share his creation allowing other companies to compete with him. The greater supply and competition in turn, will allow more people to access the goods that were patented.

Patent example

In the 1890s, the German Rudolf Diesel developed and patented a cleaner engine than those that existed at that time. Although its creation was adopted years later, it has generated significant benefits for both the automotive industry and society, improving efficiency and reducing pollution.

Currently, more than 50% of the vehicles in Spain have characteristics of the engine developed by Diesel.

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